Panettone 2011


This year, as in previous years, I am experimenting with Pannettone. This wonderful, but complicated Italian Christmas bread/cake is one of the baking challenges that I haven’t yet mastered. I have tried it a few times over the last few years, and there are several tricky parts. First, it is quite hard to find the tall narrow baking tins that are best for this bread. One year I bought a set of cheap mugs from a discount store, and lined them with baking paper to make little ones. Other years I have made small ones in muffin tins. I have on one occasion managed to buy online some of the special paper moulds that the Italians use for this bread.

Second, the bread (or at least the recipe that I usually use from Dan Lepard) involves some quite esoteric ingredients – cocoa butter, orange flower water, rose water, panettone essence, chocolate essence. I had small bottles of the latter two  from a baking class in Melbourne in about 2007 that I used for a couple of years. We went looking for panettone essence (Fiori di sicilia) last year when we were in Sicily, and finally tracked some down (most places, even there, looked at us with puzzlement). The precious bottle was carefully wrapped and secreted in the bottom of a suitcase, and made it here in one piece. Then, the last challenge is getting the bread to rise. It is chock full of fruit, sugar and eggs, and I have found on several occasions that my sourdough starter goes on strike and refuses to rise. The bread, though nice, ends up quite dense.

I managed to piece together most of the ingredients this year (no orange flower water), and have tried a new approach to the baking tins. In one website I found a description of making some origami paper baskets for the bread. That seemed like a neat idea, so I ended up making a couple of different shapes (including these small, but taller boxes). Here is the mix in my new panettone ‘tins’, waiting to rise.

And here they are, later the same day...

I wasn’t sure that I would be baking the panettone yesterday. When I have made them before, the dough has been so slow to rise that I have often left it overnight and baked them the following morning. But today, to my surprise, the dough actually behaved as it was supposed to, and doubled over a period of about 6 hours. In the end I baked them after a proof of about 8 hours – extraordinarily long by the standards of most breads and cakes, but quite short for my experience with these breads. I am not sure what made the difference, except I am pretty sure that the warm humid weather here in Adelaide was a big factor, plus the warmth of our kitchen – hot from baking 6 loaves of bread, several batches of ‘stained glass’ biscuits, and roasting garlic for olive oil.

The inverted suspension is supposed to help the breads retain their airiness, and stop collapsing when they come out of the oven. I have tried that before, and I can’t remember, but I suspect that they misbehaved as the first bread did today – falling to pieces and dropping bits on the floor. There was a moment of tension as we flipped the bread over, and waited for it to fall apart. In fact, it wasn’t too bad – the top cracked, and molten chocolate started to ooze out after a few minutes – so we decided to rescue it. I think part of the problem was the size of the large bread. The smaller ones remain upside down on the clothes rack, and look as if they are behaving.

Meanwhile the house is full of the sweet, fruity, flowery perfume of this bread.


The next morning, here is the sliced final product. This is the best so far - light, not too crumbly, moist, and utterly, utterly moorish.


It is a bit of a palaver, but I suspect that this will not be my only batch of panettone this season…


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SourDom 2011 December 11

I didn't post Dan's recipe initially, but now I have found it posted on his forum, so here it is in all its glory.


This is my absolute favourite recipe - and four years later I am a little closer to something that Dan might recognise.

Couple of notes. I have in the past, and this year made 2/3 of Dan's quantities. This made one large and three small panettones.

This one is pure sourdough - no commercial yeast.

I used 1/2 soaked sultanas (in brandy) and 1/2 chocolate.

The flavouring mix that I used was a mix of vanilla, chocolate, rose water and panettone essence. (Dan's original instructions don't make clear that the vanilla/choc/rose/orange are a substitute for panettone essence, though that makes more sense).

I didn't bake as long as Dan suggests, and suspect that might have helped for the big version. I also think that steam may help to maximise the rise.

I don't have a mixer, so my dough was mixed by hand - I think, though can't be sure, that this would make the final result even lighter.

You can use white chocolate instead of cocoa butter if you find that hard to find (I don't use any dairy in my panettone, so that isn't an option for me).

I also used a glaze from Wild Yeast - see bottom:



Dan Lepard 2007: Panettone


A traditional panettone is a lengthy rather than complicated process and though there is lots of text in this recipe, it's actually rather easy to make. But there is quite a bit of organising to do first.

A firm brioche-style mixture is made the night before with a sourdough starter rather than yeast. This is left at room temperature until the next morning, which allows the dough to become bubbly and active and almost ready-to-bake. This way, when the other ingredients are added the dough, it has just enough oomph left for one last rise before baking.

This final dough is mixed with more eggs, beaten with a little custard (the cooked starch in the custard helps to keep the dough moist), a heap of citrus and vanilla flavouring (and usually a floral essence called Fiori di Sicilia), a small amount flour and sugar, plus a little salt, then extra butter and a hard fat.

The hard fat is very important in achieving that everlasting softness. Though I've suspected, and have seen, bakers in Italy who rely on chemicals like crumb-softeners, the effect is enhanced by using a fat that has a high melting point as this preserves the crumb structure and moistness during the initial baking period. Traditionally, bread made with lard was found to stay softer than bread made without or with vegetable oil. Lard is traditional but here we're using cocoa butter. Finally, chunks of fruit or chocolate or candied chestnut are beaten in and the mixture left to sit for 45 minutes before dividing it between the tins. The dough is almost like a batter, and having it very soft rather than "tight" will help keep the texture light.

Finally, after baking, the panettone is pierced with skewers at the base and hung upside-down to cool. This is necessary as the batter-like dough bakes to a very soft crumb, too soft to hold its own weight. So, like an angel food cake, the panettone hangs upside-down to stretch the crumb and stop it shrinking.

Ingredients & Method: Stage 1

This recipe makes three large (850g) panettone, enough to share with friends or freeze. The recipe doesn't reduce very well as some of the ingredient amounts become so small that it all gets tricky.

Primo impasto (to be made the night before)
125g unsalted butter, softened
200g active white leaven @1:1
(or 1/4 tsp dry yeast mixed with 100ml warm water and 100g strong flour, and left for 2 hours to bubble)
75g strong white flour
550g Italian 00 flour
125g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
200ml water at 25C

Place the butter in the bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add 50g flour with the leaven and beat for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl combine the sugar, egg yolks and water. Add the egg yolk mixture with the remaining flour to the butter and leaven, and beat for 15 minutes. Then keep covered at 22C - 24C for about 12 hours.

Also, check your fruit (Stage 2:4 below) and soak as necessary.

Stage 2

The following morning have the following ingredients measured and in separate containers.

(1) The egg and flavouring mixture (beat together):
6 egg yolks
2 large (60g) eggs
100g pastry cream (made very thick)
100ml water
zest 2 lemons
zest 2 oranges
2 tbsp strong flavoured honey, like Manuka or Acacia
and either
3 tsp each vanilla extract, orange flower water, rose water, and chocolate essence
3 tsp panettone essence or Fiori di Sicilia

(2) The dry ingredients (stir together):
100g strong white flour
125g caster sugar
3/4 tsp salt

(3) The butter:
25g cocoa butter, melted and combined with
75g unsalted butter, melted

(4) The fruit:
400g candied orange peel, chopped
and either
400g raisins or sultanas, blanched in boiling water and soaked overnight in grappa.
or 400g chopped glace chestnuts
or 400g chocolate pieces

First, prepare the tins (if you're not using paper panettone moulds). Take 3 un-greased 20cm diameter deep cake tins. Cut a length of foil at least twice the circumference of the tin and almost 3 times the height. Fold this strip in half and tuck it inside the tin so that it wraps around twice and sits about 50% higher than the top of the tin.

Next cut three squares (between 38cm - 45cm across) of baking paper, but not the non-stick parchment kind. This is one of the few times when you do want the dough to really stick to the paper. Also take some thin card, like the top of a shoe box, and cut discs to fit snugly in the base of the tins. First press the paper into the tin so that the corners come up the sides in handkerchief points. Then carefully press the disc down into the base.

Also, for each of the three tins, have ready sometime before the panettone is out of the oven, two long skewers or a long "U" shape fashioned from a clean wire coat hanger, long enough to pierce through the panettone and with enough extra wire either side that it can sit between two chair backs. The idea is that you pierce this "U" shape through the base of the panettone as soon as it is hot out of the oven and the tin

Put the primo impasto into the mixer, and beat in the egg and flavouring mixture (1) until smooth and almost evenly combined, then beat in the dry ingredients (2) and mix for 5 minutes until smooth. Pour the butter (3) into the dough and beat until the oilyness disappears. Last of all add the fruit (4) and mix until combined.

Stage 3

Leave the dough for 45 minutes so that it starts to rise again. Weigh approx 900g dough into each of the lined tins or paper panettone moulds. Leave the dough until it has doubled, about 4 - 6 hours at room temperature (22C - 24C). Don't let it get cold, and be patient as all the butter and flavouring can slow it down. Heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/425°F/gas 7. Oil some kitchen scissors, snip a cross into the top, drop a few hazelnut-sized pieces of butter in the cut top then bake for 30 minutes with a tray of boiling water in the base of the oven to add steam to help it rise. Then reduce the heat to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F/gas 5 and bake for a further 25 - 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and lift out of the tin with the paper attached. Stick the wire through about 1cm above the cardboard at the base. Quickly and carefully invert the panettone and leave it hanging, propped up between two chair backs, until cool.


Glaze Ingredients:

  • 55 g granulated sugar
  • 3 g ground almonds (or almond flour)
  • 4 g vegetable oil
  • 4 g corn flour
  • 4 g cocoa powder
  • 30 g egg whites
  • scraped seeds from 1/5 of a vanilla bean
  • pearl sugar for topping
  • To mix the glaze, whisk all ingredients, except the pearl sugar, together. Brush the glaze evenly onto the top of the loaves (don’t worry if it pools where the dough meets the mold) and sprinkle with pearl sugar. [I used granulated suger]


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2011 December 11

 I have had fun making Panettone in the past and last year I bought a silicone mold to make them with.  I really like the idea of using the Origami box to make it in.  I think I will try to make one that way this year.  Thanks for the idea.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2011 December 12

 Just a post for another Origami shape that I think will work really well. The spam filter was triggered and I can't paste in the web address.  Find a site called origami-instruction and find the vase instrucrtions.  That should get you a shape that is more like a Panettone if someone wants to go that route.  I did a vase from a 9" square and it made a nice small size mold.  When you fold the vase you will have the ablity to make the slope of the sides and the width of the base to your liking.  Pactice a little bit and you will see what I mean.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2011 December 21

 I just tried to make Panettone using the vase and it doesn't work very well with expanding dough.  The paper unfolded on me and the dough was spreading out.  I would say not to use this origami vase for making Panettone.  

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2011 December 13

 Thanks Midnite Baker.  I have been practicing with 11 inch square pieces of paper and made a vase with 3 inches sides and 4 inch square base.  I'm getting really close to the shape that I wanted to use.  I think this is going to be fun.  Have a Merry Chistmas too.

Marla's picture
Marla 2011 December 13

 New to commenting here, but I must say that I am struck at how complicated Dan Lepard's recipe is.I started my sour dough from a recipe of his. Although I have been baking bread for years, it is an endless journey with always much to discover. I love your origami boxes and think they are not so different from the paper forms they use for pannettone. I live in the land of Pannettone and it is uncommon to have that many candied fruits in a Pannettone which may contribute to the density and difficulty of getting it to rise. Generally speaking, Italians prefer say fewer ingredients, and many varieties, so that the flavors shine through and don't compete with one another. We have a small Pannettone factory in our neighboring big town and that tends to be the rule for them. They make all of their Pannettone and Pandoro with levito madre. I let my pannettone rise at least overnight. My husband said his grandmother always let hers rise at least 24 hours, so you shouldn't be afraid to let it have a long development. I think though your latest ones look quite delicious. 

Panevino 2011 December 14


I let my pannettone rise at least overnight. My husband said his grandmother always let hers rise at least 24 hours, so you shouldn't be afraid to let it have a long development. I think though your latest ones look quite delicious. [/quote]


Hi Marla, does your naturally leavened pannettone get sour with such a looong rise?

Marla's picture
Marla 2011 December 14

 Ciao Panevino,

No it doesn't because my levito madre, isn't sour tasting to begin with. In general my starter is not strong tasting, but if I find that it is, I try to use it and feed a bit before making Panettone to tame the flavor. I don't think it has to do as much with the length of the fermentation as it does with the flavor of your levito going in to the dough. I hope that makes sense.

SourDom 2011 December 13

 Hi Marla,


great to hear from you (and welcome to the forum). It is fantastic to have insight from someone from an Italian background. I often wonder how close my creations are to the real thing!

Dan's recipe is complicated, though in fact there are various options listed above, and I don't think his idea was to include all of them. (I quite like having a little bit of chocolate as well as some raisins, but perhaps it would be more traditional to just have the raisins and candied peel). What fruit do you add to yours?



Marla's picture
Marla 2011 December 14

 Thanks Sourdom, for your kind words....I think chocolate would be a fine addition to the candied fruit and sultanas/raisins. Without the chocolate, it is the "classic" panettone. Chocolate doesn't overcomplicated it. I just kind of thought overkill when it got to the marron glace/ chestnuts. They have a subtle but distinct flavor that would be over shadowed with all the other flavors. I've had wonderful chocolate and pear combos, and I think fig was one of my all time favorites. I'm also a fan of Pandoro, which is pretty much panettone without any additions at all. It is dusted in powder sugar before serving. When it's a flavorful bread/cake Pandoro rocks on it's own.  I tried to upload a photo here of our local panettone, but to no avail, but here is a link to  a couple of photos of a couple panettones in their showroom that is infront of the factory. When they are baking as the fo so often these days, it is heavenly smelling around town.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 December 17

Thanks Dom,

For raising the topic of Pannetone.

As a result I was inspired to give it a go as we have long been fans of Pannetone.  Curiously, I am pretty sure we first heard if it from one of our children's books about the story of Easter and the traditions associated with that festival but it certainly seems to be very much a Christmas thing these days.

But, I digress.

Firstly I based mine on a yeasted recipe that I had and just converted it and scaled it to allow for the flour and water in the starter (plus a couple of other tweaks for ingredients that I didn't have to hand).  Second, I used the Kitchenaid for the first part of the dough development as it started off fairly 'battery'.  Third, I proved and baked in pudding basins - maybe next time I will try the origami.  Fourth, the timings were much extended - probably due to the richness of the dough with the eggs and fat.  Final proving took 24 hours.  Fifth, hanging upside down was not an option but no evidence of collapse.

And this is the result.

Maybe not as light and fluffy as the commercial ones but just as tasty and the vast satisfaction of having done it yourself.

Have a great festive season everyone.


SourDom 2012 December 12


It is that time of year again.

In the lead up to Christmas, with all the chaos of work deadlines, school finishing, present purchases, social functions, preparations for big meals, what does sourdom do? He decides to bake a 60 hour bread.

I have been baking Panettone at this time of year I think for about 7 years. Over that time I have tried various recipes, tricks, tins. Each year has been getting closer, and this year is, (IMHO) the best year. Incredibly light, fluffy, fruity, the cake even behaved and rose as it was supposed to. 


In past years I have found the dough rising so slowly that I had to leave it for anything from 6 to 8 hours or more before baking. This year it was racing off the blocks, and by 3 or 4 hours was reaching the top of the paper moulds that my wife had found for me in a local kitchenware store

The only problem with my dough’s excitingly rapid progress was that I had banked on it going a bit slower – and leaving it all night. Instead it was ready to go in the oven at 3am.



I have plenty of experience of sleep interruption, with 4 children and regular on calls. But I only have myself to blame for my seriously interrupted sleep last night.

Still – made for a nice breakfast…

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